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Border Closure Pushes Inflation Rate To 11.24% -NBS

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), yesterday, released the Consumer Price Index which measures inflation with the index rising to 11.24 per cent in September.
The 11.24 per cent represents an increase of 0.22 per cent when compared to the 11.24 per cent recorded in August.
The prices of food items have been on a steady increase since August when the Federal Government closed Nigeria’s borders to neighbouring countries.
However, the Federal Government has announced a total ban on the import and export of goods at the land borders nationwide in the ongoing joint border operation, tagged: “Exercise Swift Response”.
The operation began on August 20, 2019, involving Customs and Immigration with support from Army and other security agencies.
The joint border security is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and covers the four geopolitical zones, including South-South, South-West, North-Central and the North-West.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja, the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) said: “The issue of movement of goods is not the same thing with movement of persons.
“Let’s understand that all perishable items are on prohibition whether on export or import. Therefore, nobody can carry tomato to the border to import or export. So, it makes it easier for us to close and ensure that all goods for now are banned from being exported or imported through our land borders.
“That is to ensure that we have total control over what comes in and what we do. We are strategizing on how best the goods can be handled when we get to when this operation will relax,” he noted.
Ali, however, advised local dealers, who want to export or to import items, to use the seaports is the only access at present.
On when the operations, which is nearly two months will end, Ali said, “It is as long as it will take our neighbours to come to the table and agree to execute exactly what was agreed upon during former Olusegun Obasanjo’s time which is simple adherence to ECOWAS transit procedure. That has not happened.”
In a response on how the operation is impinging on the fundamental rights of persons to movement, the Customs boss said, “When it comes to security, all other laws take a backseat. Nigeria must survive first then we can begin to consider your rights.”
Nevertheless, the Federal Government has refused entry for 1,111 irregular migrants in the past two months of the ongoing joint border operations just as it has removed 728 others who are already in the country.
The Comptroller General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandede, at a joint briefing with Customs in Abuja, who revealed this, said that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) had also stopped many on irregular migration since August 20 when the operation began.
He said: “Before this operation, people enter into the country in and out. But this operation has enhanced the ECOWAS rule on entry and exit of persons.
“We have refused entry for 1,111 people who do not have the right travel documents to enter Nigeria. Among the 147 people we have arrested, many are not even citizens of ECOWAS states.
“We have arrested Pakistanis and North Koreans; we have deported seven and processing deportation of the others. 728 who have entered into the country have been removed,” he explained.
The Coordinator of the Exercise at the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Brig-Gen. Emmanuel Aliyu Ndagi, said the operation had promoted inter-agency harmony, adding that the agencies involved had been directed to use only minimum force in the process.
The Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), who spoke on how the operation was impinging on the fundamental rights of movement, said: “When it comes to security, all other laws take a backseat. Nigeria must survive first then we can begin to consider your rights.”
Speaking on the gains, he said: “As it is in the last report, our consumption of petroleum products has reduced by 10.2 million litres which means that has been continuously been smuggled to our neighbouring countries.”
He said goods worth N1.43billion had been seized while operatives had arrested 317 suspected smugglers and 147 illegal migrants, seized 21,071 bags of foreign rice, 190 vehicles, 891 drums of petrol, 2,665 can of vegetable oil, 66,000 litres tanker of vegetable oil, 133 motorcycles, 70 cans of petrol and 131 bags of fertilizer used for making explosives.
“As a result of this closure, Niger Republic has already circulated an order banning exportation of rice in any form to Nigeria,” Ali added.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the deployment of drones, aircraft and geospatial technology for the monitoring of borders, it was learnt, yesterday.
A source said the strategy was part of the e-Customs that the nation will use for the surveillance of the movement of illicit goods and persons.
With the procurement and deployment of the e-Customs, the borders shall record a watertight security that will foreclose the need for the erection of physical walls.
The source said: “The President has just approved e-Customs. E-Customs encompasses the deployment of border management technology, which will incorporate the use of drones, aircraft and other geo-spatial technology to be able to monitor our borders to ensure that any illicit movement of goods and persons do not take place. Once that is in place, I think we will be very safe that we do not need walls to be erected.”
This is coming on the heels of the joint operation border patrol code-named ‘EX-SWIFT RESPONSE.”
The Ex-SWIFT RESPONSE, coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), comprises the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies to address trans-border security issues.
The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) Comptroller-General, Mohammed Babandede, disclosed in Abuja at the joint press briefing of the EX-SWIFT RESPONSE that President Buhari approved has enhanced the implementation of the ECOWAS protocol.
Following the implementation, the NIS, according to him, has ensured “if you don’t have travelling document, we (immigration) cannot allow you to leave Nigeria. We have refused the entrance of 1,111 people, who wanted to enter into Nigeria. “
Continuing, he said that we have removed people that have already entered, 728 people have been removed.”
Babandede revealed that there are non-ECOWAS nationals among those that the NIS arrested during the ongoing border closure.
The Immigration boss revealed: “We have arrested Pakistanis. We have arrested North Koreans. Those people are supposed to be deported. We have deported around seven of them. We getting the documentation to make sure they reach North Korean.”
He noted that illegal migrants have been banned from entering into Nigeria for life even through recognized routes.
He added that with the closure of borders, there has been reduction in banditry and kidnapping, stressing that some of the criminals are foreigners.
He vowed that the NIS operatives will continue the border monitoring to ensure that only legitimate migrants enter into Nigeria through the legal routes.

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Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road

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No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.

By: Taneh Beemene

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Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank

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The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.

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Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.

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